A graduate’s journey: Part 2 Job applications and other nightmares…

The uncertainty surrounding the job sector means the competition between job applicants is getting tougher. It’s inevitable that no matter what job you apply for; you’ll be competing with hundreds of other applicants, fighting to land the dream job. The only way of making sure your name makes it on the short list, is to pass the first round totally unscathed that means arming yourself with an epic job application!


I began job hunting fairly early on in my final year, but filing a job application always came bottom of the hundred and one other things final year throws at you. In fact, it was soon after the graduation festivities when the post exam feeling started to wear off, that I looked seriously at my very first job application. There was definitely no escaping them. Job applications were the only bit of reading I did for a good few months, and rightly so, as they were what formed the first vital steps to my future career.
Truth be told, it was probably one of the most difficult and nerve-racking forms I had to fill in, and it didn’t make things easier knowing that my future depended on it. Looking back now, part of the anxiety came from just reading the words: ‘EMPLOYEE APPLICATION’ on the first page! Sure, I always felt at ease with the first section of the application. Who wouldn’t! ‘Name’, ‘Age’, ‘Address’ etc, it was definitely the easiest and quickest part.

It was when the employers started asking the more difficult questions: ‘What previous experience do you have’? ‘What skills do you have to fit the job role’? Etc. that was when my head usually started to hurt! The worst question, that leaves me slightly nauseas even now, has to be: ‘Why do you want to apply for the job’? / ‘What makes you a good candidate for the job’? …EEK!
Often, deep down we all know we’ve got exactly what the employers are looking for, and that we’re perfect for the job- Trust me, I know, I totally overused the phrase: ‘That job is made for me!’. Unfortunately, even for the best communicators among us, it can be quite difficult to express how generally great we are for the job, on paper. Likewise, it can often be tricky to know exactly how to get the right points across.
These were problems I became all too familiar with, but adamant not to be defeated, I found it helpful to write down the points I wanted to make, in the exact way I would say them whilst speaking. Sometimes, expressing yourself in the way you find most comfortable can help you to get the general structure of what you plan to write- sounds simple, but its definitely worth a shot!
I can’t express how vital it is to also impress the employers with a list of skills you’ve gained from your degree, or from any work and experience you may have undertaken. The >>Progress>> service was a blessing when I was tackling ten to fifteen applications all for different jobs. It’s a valuable resource to help get your head around all things skills-related and is the best place to find those key words that will give any application a perfect boost. These are the things that let the employers know you’ve got exactly what they’re looking for, so it’s definitely worth checking out- It’s just one click away from you’re my progress tab!

You’ll be happy to know, the help doesn’t stop there! The CEC also runs a fantastic series of workshops, specifically designed to tackle those job application nightmares. These are run on campus throughout the year and are an informative guide on the process- a must, if like me, applying for a job has left you with one too many sleepless nights. Keep an eye out for them!
Just think, once you’ve perfected the art and science of applying for a job, you’ll always be ready and armed if ever you need to file an application again! Take it from me, when filling in applications for similar jobs, I found it so handy to recycle a few paragraphs of my C.V or from a previous application I had filled in. As long as it’s relevant and it’s your own work, it should work a treat!
And if this isn’t enough, have no fear, because the CEC is here! Honestly, from one student to another, it’s the best place to get valuable support and advice when you’re starting out in the jobs market. After all, job applications are a perfect way to impress the employers on paper, so why not use all the tools available to help. It worked for me, after hours of filling in applications, I landed a great job in media communications ;D
Good Luck and don’t give up- If you don’t get it the first time, just consider yourself one step closer to the dream job!


About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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